Grapefruit essential oil is one of the most popular citrus oils in aromatherapy, with a fresh and tangy
fragrance that never fails to bring a welcome boost to the senses. Like all citrus fruits, the grapefruit
belongs to the Rutaceae family, which are a large family of shrubs, trees and occasionally herbs.
This botanical family is of great economic importance and provides a wide range of citrus crops to
the world of commerce; grapefruit, lemons, limes, oranges and tangerines, as well as some
ornamental species. After the orange, the grapefruit is the second most important citrus fruit
worldwide. The fruit is almost round or oblate and grows in clusters of up to 6, although this figure
varies greatly. A large tree can produce as much as 500 to 700 fruit per year.
The grapefruit was first described in 1750 by the reverend Griffith Hughes who called it the
‘forbidden fruit’ of Barbados. Later in 1789, Patrick Browne reported it as growing in most parts of
Jamaica and he referred to it as ‘forbidden fruit’ or ‘smaller shaddock’. Shaddock was a popluar
name for the pomelo at that time, and is a giant citrus fruit that can reach 10-11 inches in
diameter, with a firm flesh and less juice than a grapefruit. It is thought to have been named after
Captain Shaddock of the East India Company who introduced the tree to the West Indies. Tangy
grapefruit is now believed by botanists to be an accidental hybrid of the pomelo (Citrus grandis)
and sweet orange (Citrus sinensis), and it was James MacFayden, in his publication ‘Flora of
Jamaica’ in 1837 who gave it the botanical name of Citrus paradisi which literally means the ‘fruit
Grapefruit essential oil is classed as a top note and has a very wide range of uses due to its uplifting,
stimulating and cleansing properties. It is highly effective when used in massage blends to treat
cellulite and the elimination of toxins because it helps to stimulate the lymphatic system. In skincare
it can be used to help relieve oily and congested skin and has an all-round toning effect on dull skin.
On the emotional system it excels with a cleansing and balancing effect that really lifts the spirits
when feeling down, or heading for nervous exhaustion and depressive states. It is also effective at
the first signs of stress, especially when blended with other emotionally stimulating oils such as
sweet basil. Grapefruit oil is valued for its skin care benefits and ability to promote the appearance
of clear, healthy-looking skin.